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  • Writer's pictureDonna Hechler Porter

"A Lotta Living": David Madison Chaney

A continuing series drawn largely from Laura Power Marbut and Sarah Powers Thielbar's book David M. Chaney, 1809-1859, Allied Families and Descendants. The book has long been out of print, having been published in 1971 by Heritage Papers of Danielsville, Georgia.

In 49 short years David Madison Chaney did a "lotta living." As a youth, he went with his widowed mother and her five other children from Natchez County to a Louisiana homestead in East Feliciana Parish; carved a home out of the wilderness; married at age twenty- the bride was fourteen; lost this wife in childbirth eight years later; eight months after that married a twenty-four year old widow - our ancestress [Marbut and Thielbar's]; when she died nine years later, married the third time; by these three wives he had fourteen children - at least two died in infancy and three survived their eightieth birthdays; continued his father's heritage as a Baptist preacher; organized and built Bluff Creek church with his hands and his eloquence in the pulpit; pioneered in East Feliciana Parish in education and community improvement. He died at age 49 and was buried in Bluff Creek cemetery. A well-preserved tombstone bears evidence to the fact that he was a member of the Masonic order.

(Marbut & Thielbar, pg 1)

David Madison Chaney was born 19 May 1809 to Bailey Eliphalet Chaney and Elizabeth Ratliff. Bailey was the son of William Chaney, and Elizabeth was the daughter of William and Mary Ratliff of South Carolina. Bailey and Elizabeth married in what is now Franklin County, Mississippi, about 1798, and it is likely David was born here. By the time of their marriage, Bailey was already a well-known Baptist preacher, and he had already defied Louisiana authorities by penetrating as far as Baton Rouge and preaching in a country largely populated by Catholics.

Picture is of David Madison Chaney and found on Ancestry.

Marbut and Thielbar later, in a supplement to their first book, retract their statement about Elizabeth moving from Mississippi to Louisiana with her children, having found evidence that about 1825, Bailey and Elizabeth moved their now large family eastward into the East Feliciana Parish area of Louisiana. Soon after that, Bailey passed away, and Elizabeth continued to work their land and property. By this time, David was sixteen years of age, and he worked alongside his mother.

David Madison Chaney was married three times. He married first Margaret Nesom, second Winifred Watson, and third Susan Bankston. Of the fourteen children he had by all three wives, only seven lived to adulthood and several were lost within days of their birth or before their tenth birthday.

David, like his father, was a Baptist preacher. He built Bluff Creek Baptist Church in East Feliciana Parish and he serviced that church his whole life. At his death, he was buried in the church's cemetery near the church where he had devoted so much of his life and work.

Marker in Bluff Creek Cemetery, East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana

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